Nurses ramp up sick leave

23 April 2018 - 12:28 By Timeslive
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

Sick leave applications for staff in Gauteng state hospitals have risen "alarmingly"‚ from R161 million paid to 3‚244 employees in 2014 to R312 million paid to 5‚882 employees last year.

This was revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Ramokgopa: “Short temporary incapacity applications are the highest applications applied for‚ but the long temporary incapacity leave applications constituted the highest amount paid during the management of incapacity leave in 2017.”

There were 442 cases of long-term incapacity in 2017‚ for which R15.3 million was paid out‚ compared to 411 cases which cost R1.2 million in 2014.

Ramokgopa said that nurses were the source of the majority of sick leave applications.

Jack Bloom‚ a Democratic Alliance member of the provincial legislature‚ commented: "I am concerned by the unexplained jump in sick leave by hospital staff. Are staff experiencing increased illness‚ or is the sick leave system being abused because of poor management? An investigation is needed into the sick leave increase‚ particularly with nurses‚ which could be due to burn-out from working in poor conditions or picking up infections from patients."

Better management of sick leave is needed to prevent abuses and fix the causes of avoidable illness‚ he said.